Honoring the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as part of the WHO released two coordinated reports highlighting the current state of the world’s fight against the disease. While the WHO’s Report on Cancer aims to “set the global agenda on cancer, mobilize stakeholders and help countries set priorities for investing in cancer control,” the IARC’s World Cancer Report “focuses on prevention and offers the most comprehensive overview of relevant research available to date.”
The latter report highlights that, despite steady progress in cancer prevention and treatment, the global cancer burden is still increasing as the number of new cases is expected to grow by 50 percent between 2018 and 2040. As the following chart illustrates, the IARC recognized 10.1 million new cancer cases in 2000, 18.1 million in 2018 and is expecting 27 million new cases per year by 2040. According to the report, cancer is the first or second leading cause of premature mortality (i.e. deaths at ages 30-69 years) in more than 90 countries worldwide, killing 9.6 million people in 2018 alone.
Further highlighting the relevance of cancer as an issue concerning all of us, the IARC cites estimates from 2018, stating that 1 in 8 men and 1 in 10 women are likely to develop the disease during their lifetime. Aside from the millions of lives lost prematurely each year, cancer also bears a huge economic burden. According to WHO estimates from 2017, global cancer care costs are piling up to more than $1 trillion annually.